Activities for Practicing Time Day, and Date

Time, day, and date are all incredibly useful concepts to know in any language, but they don't really lend themselves to conversation the way other topics do.  So how do we make these topics accessible and engaging for students?  Below I have compiled a list of some of the ways I present and review time, day and date.  Feel free to add your own in the comments!


Virtual Clock  - I love this virtual clock.  It shows the current time, or you can adjust it to any time you want.  It's great to show on the SMART Board and have kids come up and manipulate when introducing time.

Fun Games - The Australian State of Victoria has created some fun games on a variety of topics.  If I have a few minutes at the end of class, I'll throw one of these up on the SMART Board and have the kids take turns playing.  I then post them on my Edmodo page and encourage kids to play at home.  Another fun game is Quizlet's scatter.  It's fun to do with time and date (match the written form to the numbers).

Horloges App - Stephanie Bass of Bonne idée! shared the wonderful idea to use the native clock app on the iPad to reinforce time (click here to read her presentation on using smart phones and iPads in the FSL classroom).  I took this idea and had my students complete a Socrative quiz about time in different francophone cities.  First, they switched the language and the keyboard to French to make it more authentic, then they opened up the Socrative quiz (I blogged about Socrative here, by the way).  As questions popped up about various cities, they added those cities to the app.  Then, they could swipe from the right, and the clocks appear at the side of the screen.  The questions asked things like "Il est huit heures à New York.  Quelle heure est-il à Paris ?"  Since the question and answers were written as words, and the clock app provided numbers, they needed to know how to say the numbers in French.  In addition to reinforcing the vocabulary for time, it also reinforced the idea of time zones and geographic awareness.

Télérama - Télérama is a French television guide that has program listings on its website.  I put this up on the board and ask students when different shows are on.  They enjoy seeing what their favorite shows are called in France.  I like to use this to reinforce the "à" in "at what time."

  Emploi du Temps - I show my students French school schedules and ask them questions about them.  I use these on homework assignments and quizzes.  I also have my students make up their own schedule similar to a French one.  They enjoy learning about Wednesday afternoons being free!

By Tototomy7614 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Ecole Poudlard - Students enjoy seeing what schedules from Hogwarts look like in French.  This site and others have schedules from all 7 years.  I go through the names of the courses with the students, then I have them play a game.  Everyone gets a sheet of paper.  On one side is a blank schedule.  On the other side are the schedules for the first three years.  Students get a sticker on their forehead with the number 1-3 (for first through third year).  Then, they go around the room asking when they have their various classes.  As they tell each other, they fill in the schedule.  At the end, they compare the schedules and figure out which year they are in.


What Day Is It? - It's hard to review the days of the week.  We say the day everyday in class, but even still, it needs reinforcement.  One activity I do is describe various holidays and events (such as Thanksgiving, the Super Bowl, etc.) and have students say what day of the week it is.


Celebrity Birthdays - For homework, I give students a calendar for a month and put some celebrity birthdays on it.  Students have to write the day of the week and the date for each celebrity's birthday, as well as how old they are.

More Fun Games - Just as with the time, there are more great games on the Languages Online site for practicing the date.

Télérama - When introducing the date, I go back to the Télérama site and show students the links for the days later that week (for example "jeudi 12/1," "vendredi 13/1"), and have them figure out that the numbers are actually the dates.  From here they realize that the date is stated opposite (day, month) to how it is in the United States.

Birthday Line Up - This is an old classic that you may have heard of before.  I have the students (sometimes in two separate groups) line themselves up by birthday speaking only French.

Other Activities

These activities work for time or date, as well as numbers in general.

Number/Word Match Up - Students get a slip of card stock with a date or time in word form or in number form.  They must find their partner with the corresponding date or time.  For dates, I include dates with inversed numbers such as "le premier juin" and "le six janvier" to encourage students to think about the order of the numbers in French.

LOTO - LOTO, or French bingo, is easy to play with dates and times.  To make the game move along faster, I have students make their own board, but they only pick from a set of dates or times I have up on the board.

Whiteboards - Whiteboards are a fun way to practice dates and times.  Students have so much more fun when they get to write on a whiteboard!

Puzzles - For review day, I give students puzzles made up of squares.  On each edge of each square (except the outside pieces), there is a date or time in number or word form.  On the edge that touches it, is the same date or time in the opposite form (number or word).  I don't have a file of the date and time puzzle, but below is a photo of a similar puzzle in progress that reviews numbers and other vocabulary.  When it it is done, it forms a 4x4 square.

Picture Grid - I got the idea to do a picture grid from the blog Confesiones y Realidades.  On the blog, Anne talks about grids with the numbers 1-100.  The teacher calls out a number, and the students color it in.  When the teacher is done, it forms a picture (that the teacher has pre-planned).  I did this activity to reinforce numbers, and then I did it again with dates.  It could also be done with times.

Update 2/8/16 - A commenter asked for an example of the picture grid.  Below is a "before" grid, and underneath it what it would look like after I called out the dates.


Virtual Trip - Back in 2014, I blogged about the virtual trip to Paris activity I do with my students.  They visit a series of websites and plan an imaginary trip, noting down times, days, dates and prices.  This year the students completed the activity using iPads, and used QR codes to access the websites.

iPad Diaries Volume 12

This is the 12th post in a series on using iPads in the language classroom.  Click here to view an index of previous posts.  In this post, I will be talking about how I have used MakeBeliefsComix in class and the benefits of the iPad's keyboard.

For several years now I have offered students the chance to use MakeBeliefsComix to practice their vocabulary outside of class.  It wasn't until this year, however, that I had them try it in class using the iPads.  Having the students work together on a comic strip using the French keyboard has a number of benefits.

Online comic strip generators are nothing new and there are quite a few to choose from, but I like MakeBeliefsComix best because it's free and it's kid-friendly.  It's also easy to use.  A decent looking comic strip can be made in a matter of minutes, giving students time to focus on the language.

I gave students a word bank to focus their language and let them work for the period, with the understanding that they could only add characters and backgrounds AFTER they finished writing.  By the way, if you want to use MakeBeliefsComix on an iPad, you have to download the free app.  The website will not work.  All the iPads were set to French and used the French keyboard.  This has a number of benefits for students that aren't available on a computer.  First, it exposes them to the layout of the French keyboard.  More importantly, though is that the iPad will both predict words for students and autocorrect them when they are spelled wrong.  I suppose this could be seen as either a helpful feature or a form of cheating.  I consider it a useful support that helps my novice students create a more polished writing task.  In fact, I often wished for such a feature before using the iPads.

Here are some of the results.  While at this stage of the game, it's hard to have a lot of variety, each group put their own twist on it and used different characters to make it their own.

I published these and others on my classroom blog, then I incorporated them into a homework assignment. I whited out some of the words, and students had to fill in the blank. My goal was to give the students some purpose and ownership to creating the comic beyond just creating it for the teacher to look at.

Originally I had planned to grade this activity, but it became apparent while the students were working on it that it might better serve as a practice activity.  Through reading through the results, it became apparent to me which terms needed more reinforcement.  Thus, it made an excellent formative assessment.  Because there are comics involved, student engagement was immediately heightened.

Have you ever used comic strip generators in class?  If so, how?  Have you ever used the iPad's predictive word or autocorrect features using the target language keyboard?

My Favorite Blog Posts of 2015

I like to start out the year by rounding up some of my favorite blog posts from the previous year.  From posts about francophone culture to activities and assessments in the foreign language classroom, you'll find quite a range of articles to choose from.  Here's to a prosperous 2016!

Francophone Culture
Architecture : revivez 750 ans d’Histoire de Paris en 60 façades by Le Figaro
20 Paris Instagram Accounts to Follow by Bonjour Paris
Following Claude Monet's Footsteps in Paris by Bonjour Paris
Les devoirs à la maison sont-ils vraiments interdits ? by 1jour1actu
Comment était Paris avant 1900 ? by Paris ZigZag

Language Teacher Specific
What Can I DO {-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti-do} with a Song? by The Comprehensible Classroom
Sra. Spanglish Tech Tips:  Vibby by PBL in the TL
What to Do When They Miss Class? by The Comprehensible Classroom
Why do our L1-English learners of French/Spanish find it hard to acquire agreement rules? by The Language Gym
Yes, They CAN Understand Native Speakers by 3 Rs 4 Teachers
Confession Time by Language Sensei
10 Ways to Use Photography In Your Classroom by Musings from the Island
Reflection: World Congress of Modern Languages, 2015 by Bonne idée
Teaching Students Conversation Skills from Throw Away Your Textbook
8 Reasons Technology is Crucial in the #MFL Classroom by Mme Mallette
7 Steps to Creating an Integrated Performance Assessment (IPA) by Madame Shepard
Emotional Intelligence Doesn't Translate Across Borders by Harvard Business Review

French Teacher Specific
Integrating Culture - Step 1:  Essential Questions by Madame Shepard
Authres:  Hobbies by En français, SVP!

General Teaching
Class Quiz Games with Quizizz (an Alternative to Kahoot) by Learning in Hand
Good Ideas from Twitter:  iPad Rules Lock Screens by Bonne idée !
50 of the Best Free Apps for Teachers by TeachThought
A Teacher's Guide to Wikipedia by Edudemic
33 Graphic Design Tools to Publish Visual Content by TeachThought
Spruce Up Your Centers with Technology by Learning in Hand

Language Advocacy
The Brain Benefits of Learning Multiple Languages by Lifehacker
Infographic:  Next-Gen World Language Learning by Getting Smart

Bonus:  My Most Viewed Posts of 2015
Food & Meal-Taking:  Activities Round-Up
Finding & Using #Authres
Greatest Hits:  My Favorite Songs for Learning French
My Favorite #Authres (And More!) for Mardi Gras and Carnaval
iPad Diaries:  Volume 2

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